Illinois and New Jersey governors sign $15 minimum wage into law
25 February 2019
Last Tuesday, the Democratic governor of Illinois, J.B. Pritzker, signed into law a bill that will raise the minimum wage in the state to $15 an hour by 2025. The first increase from the current minimum wage of $8.25—a hike to $9.25—is set to take place January 1, 2020, followed by another one-dollar raise in July of 2020.
Pritzker, a former venture capitalist whose estimated net worth is $3.5 billion, became the richest governor in US history following his election in November 2018. A worker making $15 an hour, or $31,200 a year on the basis of 52 weeks of work at 40 hours per week, would have to work for over 112,000 years to accumulate Pritzker’s fortune.
While Illinois became the first Midwest state to enact a $15 minimum wage, last month New Jersey became the fourth state to enact similar legislation, following New York, California and Massachusetts. New Jersey Governor Philip D. Murphy, also a Democrat, signed legislation that would guarantee a wage of $15 an hour by 2024. The current minimum wage is $8.85.
The New Jersey legislation incorporates multiple exemptions from the 2024 time frame. For example, a stipulation was included that firms employing seasonal workers and small businesses that employ five or fewer workers will not have to comply until 2026. Hyper-exploited farm workers are also excluded under the current legislation. Instead of $15 an hour, their minimum wage will increase to $12.50 by January 1, 2024. A “special committee” will then be convened to determine if the minimum wage will be increased any further for farm workers.
The Illinois legislation, which Governor Pritzker hailed as “a victory for the cause of economic justice,”…